By far, the most important issue for the fall election is climate change and how to fight it. Here are a few facts and predictions from climate scientists.
The number of extremely hot days is increasing everywhere, including in most American cities. The first 100-degree temperature above the Arctic Circle occurred this summer. Warmer temperatures will reduce crop yields for many foods, including many produced in the U.S. One recent study concluded that within 50 years areas where more than a billion people now live will become too hot for human habitation.
Ninety percent of the Earth’s warming is absorbed by the oceans, but warmer oceans produce more severe droughts in some areas, more severe flooding in others, and stronger hurricanes.
Essential ice is melting. Almost 2 billion people depend on glaciers for fresh water, but these glaciers may be two-thirds gone by 2100. Failure to reduce global warming will speed their melting. There are several “tipping points,” where nature is accelerating changes first caused by humans. For example, as ice in the Arctic, Antarctic and elsewhere melts, less heat is reflected into space, leading to faster melting. A new study of Greenland’s melting ice indicates this melting may have “passed the point of no return.”
America and the world need to address climate change aggressively. However, President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the imperfect Paris Climate Accords rather than try to strengthen them. He has just ended the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate methane emissions, a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. As majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell has made no effort to create legislation to fight climate change.
I urge all readers to make climate change their top issue in this election. Please consider carefully the policy differences between Joe Biden and Trump, and between McConnell and Amy McGrath.